Heather McKee (l) and Beris Campbell (r) at the newly named Edythe McCallum Reserve in South Melbourne

On February 24th 2018, Heather McKee and Beris Campbell were proud to see a new small park on the Emerald Hill in South Melbourne named in honour of their hero and mentor Edythe McCallum, and to unveil a plaque that recognises her contribution to the former City of South Melbourne during the 1960s and ‘70s. Edythe was a pioneering social worker in local government, and her legacy in shaping social housing in South Melbourne is legendary. Beris and Heather continued her work throughout the 1980s and ‘90s by developing South Port Community Housing Group and residential aged care services — and they are still at it today!

The duo’s latest project is working to establish Homeshare Melbourne, which they hope will provide a new affordable housing option for the many people put at risk of homelessness by being priced out of the skyrocketing rental market in the City of Port Phillip and the wider inner urban area of Melbourne. The Homeshare model has been successful in aged care, and the plan — in a partnership of Launch Housing and South Port Community Housing, together with the support of the City of Port Phillip — is to test it on a wider market: people of any age who have room to spare and who are interested in helping solve the housing crisis.

For this project, Launch and SPCHG are proposing a mutual benefit model that is primarily housing-focused rather than care-focused. The model proposes the matching of a person who has a spare bedroom in their home with a person looking for affordable housing. The key aim is extending affordable rental housing options by sharing underutilised existing housing. The Homeshare Melbourne program does not require construction capital input.

“It’s exciting to be working on a new housing initiative in the South Port area,” says Beris, who is also the program consultant for Homeshare Australia. “It’s also great to be working again with my old colleague Heather McKee, and extending the Edythe McCallum legacy in housing.” Our local member and Minister for Housing, Martin Foley, who on learning about the Edythe McCallum recognition, wrote, “Collectively this group of women have shaped not only South Melbourne and Port Phillip but a whole lot of Melbourne’s social landscape. Their wonderful legacy will no doubt grow and evolve.” A big call to live up to!